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(Reuters) — Insured losses from natural disasters hit a 10-year high of $42 billion in the first half of this year, with the biggest loss related to extreme cold in the United States in February, insurance broker Aon PLC said Wednesday.
Overall economic losses came in below their 10-year average, however, at $93 billion, Aon said in a report.
Disasters that hit developed countries typically lead to greater insured losses. Seventy-two percent of global insured losses occurred in the U.S. in the first half, Aon said.
The Polar Vortex-induced period of extreme cold led to an insured loss of at least $15 billion in the U.S.
Major storms in western and central Europe in June caused at least $4.5 billion in insured losses, Aon said.
Floods in Europe since last week have likely caused $2-3 billion in reinsurance losses, analysts say.
Natural disasters were responsible for around 3,000 deaths globally in the first half, with 800 fatalities from the heatwave that hit parts of Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest in late June.
“The juxtaposition of observed record heat and cold around the globe highlighted the humanitarian and structural stresses from temperature extremes,” said Steve Bowen, managing director and head of catastrophe insight on the Impact Forecasting team at Aon.
Mr. Bowen added that as a result of climate change, “it becomes more imperative to explore ways to better manage the physical and non-physical risks that are more urgently requiring actionable solutions.”
British insurer Aviva called Wednesday for urgent action from policymakers, developers and insurers to protect homes and businesses from the impact of climate change, saying most were ill-prepared to handle extreme weather.
Businesses should step up their risk management plans for power outages in extreme weather, including reviewing insurance coverage, as climate-related catastrophes increasingly cause concerns over utilities’ ability to keep power flowing, experts say.